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Award for satellite project team

The Herschel infrared space observatory. Credit: A9999 DB ESA/ AOES Medialab/DPA/PA Images

The Herschel and Plank project teams have been given this year's American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Space Systems Award.

Cardiff University's Astronomy Instrumentation Group was involved in the design of Herschel's SPIRE instrument. Members of the School of Physics and Astronomy are analysing data from the equipment.

Herschel, which operated from May 2009 until April 2013, carried the largest telescope ever built for a space observatory. Its 3.5 m-diameter primary mirror collected long-wavelength radiation from some of the coldest and most distant objects in the Universe, which was analysed with a payload of three scientific instruments.

The Planck satellite was designed to probe the remnants of the radiation that filled the Universe immediately after the Big Bang. It did this with a payload of two instruments that required innovative cooling technology to maintain them at a fraction of a degree above absolute zero.


Cardiff researchers in project to make cities 'greener'

Cardiff has extensive parkland in the city centre Credit: Barry Batchelor/PA Wire

Cardiff University has been awarded one of 14 research grants to develop 'green infrastructure' in urban areas around the world.

Urban forestry is one example in which woodland is planted in cities to manage storm water and reduce city temperatures.

Another example is ‘green roofing’, whereby roofs are partially or completely covered in vegetation to absorb rainwater, increase insulation and, again, reduce the temperature in cities to combat the so called ‘heat island effect’.

By taking advantage of the multiple benefits of green infrastructure, we hope to provide substantial economic, social and environmental gains not only for the US and Europe, but also developing countries around the world. To do this, we will need to develop approaches that are sensitive to local culture, knowledge and expertise

– Dr Andrea Frank, Cardiff University

Meteors photographed over South Wales

The meteor was spotted on Tuesday night. Credit: Keith Jones

Keith Jones from Tonypandy took this photograph of a meteor which is part of the Perseids meteor shower.

The shower peaked last night but will be visible for a few more nights.

Mr Jones caught another over Trealaw in the early hours. Credit: Keith Jones

If you have any more photographs of the Perseids we'd love to see them.

Send them to or contact us via Twitter or Facebook.


Fossil forest gets national recognition and protection

A fossil forest in Brymbo, near Wrexham, which pre-dates dinosaurs, has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest by Natural Resources Wales.

Fossilised bark from Brymbo. Credit: Peter Appleton

The site covers an area nearly half the size of a football pitch and contains a variety of 300 million year old fossilised plants and trees.

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) says it is a world class site for plant fossils.

They are the remains of plants which grew in hot, humid conditions near the equator - and include 20 fossilised giant clubmosses that look like massive tree stumps.

The fossils were first revealed in 2004 on the former iron and steel works site in Brymbo. Much of the fossil forest remains buried for its own protection.

NRW says plans are underway, led by Brymbo Heritage Group, to establish an excavation and visitor centre on the site that will ensure the right conditions to study and display the fragile fossils.

Fossilised fern. Credit: Peter Appleton

The SSSI designation will help safeguard the fossil forest into the future as a superb scientific and educational resource.

Fossils have a wide appeal and this site, developed with the right expertise and care, has the potential to be a popular tourist attraction, contributing to the local economy of this area.

– Raymond Roberts, NRW geologist

There is an extraordinary story of tell at this site, linking the geological history with Brymbo’s industrial heritage.

Our aim is to secure funding in time to open the excavation and visitor centre in the summer of 2018

– Gary Brown, Brymbo Heritage Group

In the meantime, Brymbo Heritage Group organises guided tours, open days and community digs for people to see the fossil forest and industrial heritage.

Some of the best and rarest fossils have been removed and are being conserved in the National Museum of Wales. They will be returned to Brymbo for public display, once a suitable building is ready.

It is illegal to remove fossils or damage a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

£4.5m for brain research could find cause of dementia

The money will go towards a 'centre of excellence' in Cardiff.

Credit: Andreas Gebert/DPA/PA Images

£4.5m of EU funds has been announced to help Cardiff University develop a leading centre of excellence for brain research.

The new CUBRIC (Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre) building will enable researchers to test new ideas and theories.

It could lead to a better understanding of the causes of a range of health conditions, including dementia, schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis.

The EU funds through the Welsh Government will support the construction works of the new £44m state-of-the-art facility based at Maindy Park.

This is another excellent example of how EU funds are supporting growth in the Welsh economy, helping our academic institutions to attract further competitive and private research investments and position Wales as a global leader in ground-breaking research and innovation.

– Jane Hutt AM, Finance Minister

The Welsh Government says the expansion of CUBRIC is expected to generate up to £22m in additional research investments over the coming years, enabling further collaboration to combat diseases that affect the brain.

CUBRIC’s pairing of world-leading technology with an extremely talented set of researchers will help to understand differences in normal brain function and the causes of conditions such as dementia, schizophrenia, and multiple sclerosis. Ultimately, this information will lead to the development of better treatments.

– Professor Derek Jones, Director of CUBRIC
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